Launch Your New Year Goals with These Health Habits

Jan 2, 2014 | Family, Health & Happiness, The ONE Thing | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again, where you find yourself reflecting on last year’s goals, patting yourself on the back for your accomplishments and picking yourself up from your failures to blaze ahead in 2014. But, before you rewrite last year’s goals on this year’s calendar, you need to decide what habits will help you achieve them. And, health habits – believe it or not – are a key part to reaching any goal. Here are some of our suggestions for getting your 2014 habits healthy so you can better accomplish those big rocks you set this year.

Habits are building blocks that have the power to move you closer to your goals or guide you away from them. As we explain in The ONE Thing, it typically takes 66 days to form a new habit or break an old one. So, as you think about what habits you need and don’t need, consider these small habits that may help you get on the right track!

1. Get Adequate Sleep

Aside from some of the obvious results of not getting a good night’s sleep – drowsiness and lack of energy for example – there are a few not-so-obvious consequences you should consider before you decide to burn some midnight oil.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough shuteye is linked with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, diabetes, heart problems, depression, substance abuse and a greater likelihood of obesity caused by an increase in your appetite. As if that didn’t sound bad enough, lack of sleep also impairs your ability to pay attention, react to signals and retain new information.

The rule of thumb for adults is to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, and whenever we don’t get those hours of sleep, those hours accumulate into something called “sleep debt,” a biological bank that keeps track of how much sleep you’ve been getting and how much you need. Lucky for you, sleep debt can be paid off by taking a nap later in the day or by sleeping in on the weekend! However, don’t make catching up on sleep a habit. Some researchers associate sleeping over long durations with increased morbidity and mortality rates.

Make a habit of protecting your sleep by time blocking it!

2. Spend Four Minutes a Day Working Out

Are you finding it hard to dedicate a significant amount of time in your life to working out? Then consider starting out with a brief workout plan that anyone can find time for!

health habits 2014

A study released last year showed that four minutes of intense exercise three times a week, over span of ten weeks, can lower your blood pressure and decrease your shortness of breath by as much as 14%. That’s right; in about the same amount of time as it takes to listen to your favorite song, you can squeeze in a workout that produces real results.

What does that intense workout look like? Anything that increases your heart rate to a high level for four minutes will work. It can be as easy as running or jump-roping at a fast pace for four minutes at a time.

If you find yourself wanting better results, the study also showed that participants whose workout routine consisted of four, four minute intervals of intense exercise – achieving at least 70 percent of your maximum heart rate – with three minutes of rest in-between each set (25 minutes total), experienced a decrease in body fat, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and ox-LDL cholesterol.

3. Floss Your Teeth

On average, people who floss have one more tooth than people who don’t. However, that’s not the only reason you should floss. Preventative medicine doctors claim that flossing your teeth every day can add years to your life expectancy by decreasing your risk for heart disease.

If you haven’t flossed in a while, you might notice that your gums may feel soft and bleed when you start flossing again. That softness is actually inflammation in the gums, which is a symptom of a common bacterial infection in the mouth. The chronic bacterial infection causes our bodies to work harder to get rid of the disease, which can be prevented by flossing. And when the infection is not taken care of, the bacteria can move on to other parts of your body and can cause plaque buildup in your arteries.

So, how often should you floss and brush your teeth? The American Dental Association suggests that adults should brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. So many of us find it difficult to remember to floss every day. If you’re one of those people, try using a “trigger” to remember when it’s time for you to floss, like keeping a roll of floss next to your toothbrush!

If you have those habits down, check out The Living Life Expectancy Calculator for more ideas on how you can live a healthy life, or share your healthy habits on our Facebook!

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